C64 Mini Keyboard kit – a successful user :-)

By reddit user mfriethm. Looks amazing

I sold the first batch of kits mostly on Reddit

Over the past few weeks they’ve been making their way around the globe and I’ve had a lot of happy reports back

Today, Ive been able to relax finally, the Mould works 🙂

Reddit users fantastic gallery

He’s done an amazing job using a silicone mould!

The workflow – make a mould of your uncut keybaord

Cut the keys out, tidy them up

Place keys in mould

Put glue in keys

Place keyboard on top and use screws to align

Voila!

C64 mini Quick doodle for the USB hub mod

Had someone ask, so here’s a quick and rough explanation

You need to make SIX solder connections

First, lift the centre two pins of USB1 on the mini

Second, cut off the plug and solder four pins from the USB hub cable to the bottom of the USB1 connector pads on the PCB

Third, cut off the mini USB of the longer USB cable and create a bare end. Solder two data wires to the lifted pins on the mini’s USB connecote

This then attaches the USB hub in full to the minis processor

And just uses the physical connector on the mini as an extension of one of the sockets on the hub!

Assembly of the C64 Mini working keyboard kit! – PICTURES

Follows a couple of pictures of the install, I’ve also put a couple of videos up on youtube. More will follow

DIODE orientation. Note, make sure they’re all the same way round. One here isn’t!

I’ve put some videos up on youtube about the assembly process – the playlist is linked below

Putting the switches in Wonky for the first round of alignment (smt diodes hand soldered on the original prototype)

Make sure you solder the arduino headers on before you get this far with the switches

Back of board showing Diode legs clipped and only ONE switch pin tacked per switch

USB HUB TO FOLLOW – Pictures shown in blog previously if you need them quickly

Assembly of the C64 Mini working keyboard kit! – TEXT

Some quick steps right now – photos to follow.. Suggest have two tabs open, this one and the other PICTURES tab for reference

Some videos are up on youtube also

Link to Youtube videos

SUMMARY- SOLDER PARTS ONLY IN THIS ORDER

DIODES

ARDUINO HEADERS

SWITCHES

DIODES

  • Cut one leg shorter on the diodes – Use scissors . About 1-1.5cm is good
  • bend the short leg side to a right angle
    • Note the orientation of the diode – The F Key diodes have a diode picture on them. The white bar matches the location of the black bar on the diode.
  • put diode in holes and bend slightly to lock in
  • repeat for all diodes
  • Solder all diodes
  • clip the excess legs back
  • you have a few spare diodes so don’t be afraid to experiment on one or two to get the right bend / fit

ARDUINO HEADERS

  • Probably best to solder these in now before you forget
  • I’ve found it useful to PLACE the arduino on the headers (DO NOT SOLDER YET) so it keeps the headers parallel
  • Make sure the black part of the headers is on the underside of the PCB
  • Solder one pin of each header
  • remove arduino
  • finish soldering

SWITCHES – STEP 1, JUST TACKING IN PLACE

  • Pay attention to orientation
  • don’t worry about straightening the switches at this stage, the goal is to just ‘tack’ them in with a single solder blob to hold them in place. They can be wonky, it doesn’t matter.
  • DO NOT SOLDER MORE THAN 1 PIN OF EACH SWITCH IN ONE GO
    • The switches are easily heat damaged – they become ‘sticky’ and no longer move smoothly if the plastic is melted due to excessive heat. During the entire soldering procedure for the switches, do ONE leg, move to the next switch. when all are done, move back to the first switch and repeat.
    • I’ve damaged only 2 switches this way soldering the prototypes but it can happen if you’re not careful
    • Note that the white part of each switch is asymetrical. One side has a ‘dip’ / inset which guides the switch up and down. the other side is smooth
    • there’s a marking on the PCB to represent this dip / inset.
    • ALL switches go the same way
  • Get a sheet of paper
  • Insert the top row of switches into the PCB
  • Place PCB on sheet of paper and fold paper over the top, tightly
  • flip the PCB over
  • hopefully all the switches stay in place
  • Solder just ONE leg of each switch – any one – say the top right
  • Repeat for Row 2
  • DO NOT FORGET TO SOLDER THE ARDUINO HEADERS IN PLACE
  • Repeat for Row 3
  • DO NOT FORGET TO SOLDER THE ARDUINO HEADERS IN PLACE
  • Repeat for for row 4
  • (Hopefully you didn’t forget to solder the Arduino headers in place?)
  • and finally the space bar

SWITCHES – STEP 2, Straightening

  • This is probably the most important step to getting a good looking keyboard with all the switches aligned. Spend some time getting this right, you have a handful of ‘spare’ switches so now’s the time to make mistakes and fix them whilst there’s only a single solder blob on them
  • I’ll post a few videos shortly but there’s a technique.
  • Hold the board in the air
  • Use your index finger to push in, and slightly down on each switch whilst soldering the previous blob. The goal is to move the whole switch slightly so that it’s slightly at the top, or the bottom of its footprint.
  • when you melt the solder whilst pushing in and down, the switch will move slightly, sometimes you’ll hear a little click or snap as the solder melts
  • repeat this for each switch, pushing in and down slightly – when you look at the final position, there’ll be some of the pad visible at the top of each switch
  • NOW IS THE TIME TO TEST EACH SWITCH FOR SMOOTH MOVEMENT
    • of the 5 keyboards i’ve soldered, I’ve had two defective switches, this is partly the reason why there’s a few extras in the kit
    • of the 5 keyboards i’ve soldered, I’ve broken 3 switches by either over-heating, or trying to remove after putting them in backwards. unless you’ve got a hot air gun, they’re tricky to remove intact, hence check NOW whilst there’s only one solder blob!
  • When you get close to one side of the keyboard, you’ll have to fiddle a bit to keep pushing the switches in the same direction. I’ve found that changing technique a little and ‘flip’ the board lengthwise works. hold the board against yourself and use your thumb to pull the switch down instead of push
  • repeat the alignment technique for ALL switches!

SWITCHES – STEP 3, Final soldering

  • This is the easy / relaxing bit!
  • DO NOT SOLDER MORE THAN ONE LEG OF EACH SWITCH AT A TIME
  • do it by rows, clusters, however works for you, but here’s what worked for me
  • Solder ONE pad of each switch, then move to the next
  • once all switches are done, start from the beginning
  • Solder another pad, etc etc
    • A SMALL CHEAT – You only actually need to solder 3 points. Two on the ‘bottom’ of the switch – these are the electrical contacts. ONE on the ‘top’ – this is for mechanical stability. As you look at the keyboard, the bottom two pins are the important electrical ones. Pick any on the top
  • on my prototype, I found soldering all 6 pins tiring, so on my second version I just soldered 3 and it worked perfect. Up to you, but DONT SOLDER MORE THAN 1 PIN AT A TIME

Arduino

  • Note the orientation of the Arduino by the Small USB socket and a mark on the PCB. Also the silk screen on the PCB will match the letters on the Arduino.
  • these need a little more heat to solder to the pins

Finished Keyboard!!

The Hub

C64Mini working keyboard – The Butchery Part 2

Mmmm, Mini Cake’s been baked

A quick dry overnight and….It’s a success!.

BEFORE this point (or, worst case, at this point) I’d highly recommend you clean the keyboard thoroughly and go, purchase some clearcote / clear lacquer. I haven’t done it yet but will be spraying my next keyboard to get some longevity on the text and paint……...

The mould’s quite bubbly and not really useful for much other than being a support…But, if done with more care – who knows!, Maybe C64Mini Chocolate keyboards?

Next step, Power Tools!

ROUND 1

Mwahahahaha!

Still not entirely sure if it’s even possible to quickly and repeatedly butcher the C64Mini’s keyboard reliably with good quality.

For doing your own / one off’s, this step, you can take as long as you want. if you plan on doing a few though, taking a day or two individually dremmeling out the keys isn’t my idea of fun.

I do have a CNC – so, worst case I’ll have to learn how to actually use it, then I’d just need to make a protective jig, sit the keyboard on and just CNC the keys out. I’m not really in the mood to spend a few weekends firing that workflow up yet

Failure

The Angle grinder wasn’t really a success…..The blade’s too small and the sanding is going to be too uneven. There’s no way this will work .

Round 2………..

Larger surface area = larger chance of evenness?
Too much vibration

Ok, first thoughts, it seems to work, abeit slowly and with making my hand a bit sore….

new sandpaper should do it

At this point, I figured if I use something soft and large, I could hold the keyboard in place and sand it without hurting my hands so much…..

Puzzled over this one for quite a while till I looked down……..

Found an incredibly inefficient lawn cutting method! – Orbital sanding

Seems to have done the trick!…Pressing down into the grass holds the keyboard in place and also helps resist the vibration of the sander, making it sand more efficiently…………Win Win….Also i’ll patent pend using oribital sanders for domestic grass management.

But……

Poor Lawn

I moved to another bit of the lawn to avoid totally destroying a good bit of the grass…….I found that sanding till you can see the blacks of its eyes…….the lines between the keys seems to work well. At this step, you’ll want to remove as much material as possible to avoid so much processing / sanding later on

Do resist the urge to twist / remove the keys, try to let them come out almost by themselves

oops

At this point I’d realised that an average household lawn is actually quite abrasive..Have a look at the whiteness of the edges of the keys!

Oops! – ah well, this is why i’m experimenting, so you don’t have to. I’m going to run with the theme though -these keys look a bit battle worn now, no going back so i’ll probably add a similar theme to my C64mini case 🙂 will be good to relive the old days of creating scenery and my Warhammer 40,000 airbrushing . never really did play it, just enjoyed hacking up the plastics……..Anyways…

Keep sanding, get as much material off as you can (it will save a LOT of time later)

Once you’ve got them all separated, make sure to lay them all out in order so you can admire all the keyboardy keycappy goodness that’s resulted from the dismemberment of an innocent miniature recreation of an 80’s 8 bit home computer.

Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Now, go spending several hours in the garden trying to find the most commonly used letter in the English alphabet!

I’d neglected to factor in the ability of these tiny keycaps to fling themselves a considerable distance in various directions whilst being vibrated several hundred times per second.

Suffice to say, if you’re doing the same thing, try to do it in a location where the floors relatively clean and uncluttered

A colourblind person trying to find a brown keycap in a green lawn that’s not too long, but just long enough to expose the also brown ground beneath……..Yeah, not fun.

After an HOUR of searching though………………..Eeeeeeee….A full keyboard

full c64 mini keyboard keycaps!

Next step – post processing. Removing supports.

This step i’d say is the most important. Sand down a bit the bottom and curves of each key. Get rid of all the burrs, bits, etc. you won’t get much of a chance to do this once they’re stuck. Spend a lot of time on this, cleaning each key, just getting it ‘right’

Mini Mould All filled

Once your keys are all looking great and sanded, smooth – arrange them again into a the keyboard layout. Then, one by one, transfer them into the mould.

you’ll wanna make sure you get this part right 😛

I did them line by line, starting left to right. I also had taken a picture of the keyboard prior to refer to. Check twice, place once……………

Now i’ve realised that I haven’t actually considered how to stick these things in! – i’ll need to go research glue, D’oh! gotta pause this for another week of research and buying bits

C64 Mini Keyboard – Rev2 assembly

Lovely and sunny outside. I’m in the conservatory kinda enjoying the outside………
Through Hole Diodes should make for an easier assembling kit

My Kids hate me, my wife’s lonely but the march towards C64-Mini Keyboard workery continues – That and they let me have a few hours to tinker on the weekend!

Figured whilst assembling the new boards, I’d see just how long it takes to solder them….

Quite a while as it turns out

1/2 hour to solder in 65 through hole diodes

1 hour to solder 67 switches

another 1/2 hour testing and programming

So, about all up, we’re probably talking 2.5 hours for me to fully assemble one of these…….

Except, that 1/2 hour of testing and programming actually turned into a 5 hour ‘session’ of bug fixing / fault finding – one of which…..

One of these is not like the other………..

A back to front key causing lots of characters to repeat accross the screen…..M, Space – which are both on the same column of the matrix too!

Fixed that and have discovered that it’s not really possible to re-use the switches once you’ve soldered them in – UNLESS you use a hot air gun to remove them. I’ll definitley include a few ‘spares’ in each kit

The next problem – A sticky, grindy P key – I lifted a pad removing it , fortunately, the pad wasn’t electrically connected – only 2 actually are – which will save you some time! – just solder 3 holes for each switch – that’s 201 solder connections for switches instead of 402!

The next problem…the Fantastic QMK Just refused to work and compile 😦

Kept getting “qmk avrdude.exe: butterfly_recv(): programmer is not responding” the thing just wouldn’t work over USB like the others had

which turned out to be a couple of things.

You can’t use AVRDude when the Arduino IDE is open…

Arduino Leonardo type devices (well, the clones anyway) can be a bit finiky with the USB…

Generally sending them a ‘blink’ sketch does the job…BUT, they very often need a quick ‘double tap’ reset pin to ground whilst uploading……..that’s why I have a RESET header on this board – if you want to solder one in, feel free, it’s mainly to help me when developing it.

Another issue was the frequency setting in the rules.mk file – I’d previously used a 5V Arduino pro Micro (Atmega 32u4) , somehow a 3.3v one had snuck into my spares box – these run at 8MHz, not 16MHz

Changed the firmware, recompiled and……..It’s alive!

First row lined up – second just tacked on with a single joint, ready for lining up
Finally added a bit of heat shrink

Straight!, got the technique sorted – Note the two that are slightly ‘off’ to demonstrate what happens when you change the way you ‘hold’ the switches when flipping the PCB to solder

The case fits the keyboard like a glove!

Also got a bit of a chance to progress with the CAD……

This one day may turn out to look like pretty rough keycaps! mini ones! for a mini computer!

C64 Mini Keyboard Progress..

Rev 2 PCB’s have arrived – 15 of them!

Now waiting on enough Arduino Pro micros and switches to start making kits up!

Each DIY kit will probably contain the following – i’ll firm up with pictures once i’m done test populating a rev2 board

  • 70 Standard switches
  • 70 Diodes – Through hole (possible SMT option also depending on price)
  • 1 USB Hub
  • 1 PCB – Rev 2 or later
  • 1 USB cable
  • two small pieces of heatshrink tubing
  • a couple of pieces of wire
  • 1 Arduino Pro micro – Pre-programmed with QMK firmware and custom Keymaps
  • Some instructions
  • a set of FDM – Filament printed keyswitches – These probably won’t be ‘perfect’ so i’ll be chucking them in as effective freebies as I won’t be releasing the keycaps as a digital file.

About that last part – I’ve spent countless hours on creating these keycaps, and still have more to go. I’ll eventually release them as a Digital file, but for now, you’ll be able to at least use the freebies to see if new keycaps are for you.

If you wanted a professionally printed set, i’ll be arranging something with a printing bureau somehow… It’s also likely i’ll be able to source reasonably costed SLA resin prints of these…watch this space

And for the money shots…….I’ve finished the top row of key text!

Now I’ve gotten the first row done, the next three should be significantly quicker.

The text is recessed into the key by about 0.4-0.6mm – between 2 and 6 layers of 3D print, not really enough to be clearly felt – but enough to be ‘seen’

After that, there’s the optimisation for printing – Filleting the edges – trialling depths and generally finding out what actually works, looks and feels good

C64 Mini Keyboard – ‘Invisible’ fitting mod – Part Deux- More images

Not much of an update, I put a shorter USB cable inside so thought I’d take some pictures of the top of the USB cable wiring…..

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I’ve not installed heatshrink yet on the sticky-outy USB Pins – this WILL be needed to provide strain relief – being truthful, I hadn’t expected it to work first time so didn’t bother 🙂

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Showing the complete wiring –

Joystick USB port -> USB Hub ‘output’

Keyboard -> USB Hub ‘output’

C64Mini Circuit board -> USB Hub ‘input’

There’s two free internal USB sockets now!

C64 Mini Keyboard – ‘Invisible’ fitting mod

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Spent a few hours this week adding an internal USB Hub, getting ready to start on a basic instruction sheet for the kits

As can be seen – you can’t see it’s modded externally (well, other than the keyboard). Both external USB ports still work and internally there’s a free USB port for a USB Stick 🙂

Continue reading “C64 Mini Keyboard – ‘Invisible’ fitting mod”

C64 Mini Keyboard Part 7 – More CAD -Anatomy of a keycap

C64 Keyboard Caps 5

After couple of weeks of work, I’ve finally cracked surface modelling with Fusion360 (a bit)

Here’s a bit of a step by step in creating your very own f1 Key! This is a very brief summary of what I should have done if starting from scratch, I’ve left out the trials, errors and headbanging……….

Continue reading “C64 Mini Keyboard Part 7 – More CAD -Anatomy of a keycap”

C64 Mini Keyboard, 1/2 alive and Some CAD

Bit of a change of pace from the electronics, onto the CAD…Here’s a first draft of the first key on the C64 Keyboard – the Left Arrow!

Done at full scale, then at 50% scale

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Continue reading “C64 Mini Keyboard, 1/2 alive and Some CAD”

C64 Mini Keyboard – Some progress!

Not much really – Shift Lock keys just arrived off the slow boat. The pinouts are confirmed, I’m going to hit ‘go’ to manufacture after another quick check on the PCB

Also, from a bit of researching, i’m not so sure the Diodes are needed.

I may have to make two batches of board, one with, one without

 

C64Mini Keyboard – PCB Layout Success

C64Mini - Final PCB Revision Maybe

After a loooong weekend and sneaking in a few hours – Success with the keyboard layout dimensions!

There’s few tweaks here and there remaining to align things perfectly and also to add some nice Silk Screen artwork

And, how I got there!

Continue reading “C64Mini Keyboard – PCB Layout Success”

C64 Mini Keyboard mod – More Electronics Part II – OOPS

After spending a while lining up the buttons and generally making the PCB layout a bit tidy, I figured I’d print a 1:1 and see just how well it aligns….

 

Oops…

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Continue reading “C64 Mini Keyboard mod – More Electronics Part II – OOPS”